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Censorship Government The Internet Your Rights Online

China Explains Internet Situation In Whitepaper 115

Posted by kdawson
from the for-some-definitions-of-free dept.
eldavojohn writes "In a new whitepaper, China has declared the Internet to be 'the crystallization of human wisdom' and officially issued what appears to be a defense of its policies on Web censorship, while at the same time making contradicting statements like 'Chinese citizens fully enjoy freedom of speech on the Internet' and (in the same paper) 'Laws and regulations clearly prohibit the spread of information that contains content subverting state power, undermining national unity, [or] infringing upon national honor and interests.' The paper also claims some questionable superlatives such as 'China is one of the countries suffering most from hacking.' On the positive side, this 31-page document might be offered as an operating guide for businesses, like Google, looking to understand exactly what the law is surrounding the Internet in China. The document is a rare glimpse of transparency in China's regulations."
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China Explains Internet Situation In Whitepaper

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  • More ridiculous? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by butalearner (1235200) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @03:13PM (#32500520)
    Which is more ridiculous, China's claims in this whitepaper, or the RIAA's claims in the LimeWire suit [slashdot.org]? I'm leaning towards RIAA. Discuss.
  • by Pojut (1027544) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @03:14PM (#32500528) Homepage

    "You are free to do what we tell you! You are free to do what we tell you!"

  • Re:Free-ish Speech (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nhojovadle.> on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @03:19PM (#32500586) Journal

    Further, there are many laws here in Canada that limit speech, that don't have a corresponding law in China. Specifically, I'm thinking about race.

    I would posit that the difference in your Canada vs China comparison is that the laws are better defined for you than they are a Chinese citizen. Like, what the hell does "non-harmonious" mean exactly? You don't know but you seem to have lost your job because of it.

    Think for a minute about what the phrase "speech against the government" could mean in China. Is saying "The Yang-tse river is so polluted!" considered speech against the Chinese government? Is complaining about your working conditions okay? Is criticizing the United States' copyright laws okay when your government has pledged time and time again to combat piracy?

    I think the biggest issue is that all of the above can be against the law on a case by case basis decided by the state. In Canada, are you afraid of the government disliking you for some reason and then reviewing your internet usage and history to find something to prosecute you under?

  • Re:Not so much .. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blair1q (305137) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @03:21PM (#32500634) Journal

    And I'm going to pile on.

    The vast majority of port scans in my router logs are from IP addresses in China.

    If they insist on filtering what goes into China, they should at least have the consistency to filter what comes out of it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @03:28PM (#32500732)

    Laws everywhere are unclear. I think in China the rules are intentionally unclear at a scale not seen in the US.

    The most effective sensorship is self sensorship out of fear. The vast majority of sensorship is done at the local management level.

    In the US we have Safe Harbor times. No words need to legally be bleeped at midnight, Yet they are anyway.

    In the US it is much more clear and limited.
     

  • Re:Free-ish Speech (Score:5, Insightful)

    by somenickname (1270442) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @03:30PM (#32500766)

    The problem is that criticizing the government is one of the primary reasons to have the notion of "freedom of speech".

  • Rights... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Notquitecajun (1073646) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @03:40PM (#32500928)
    For those of you who believe that our rights are somehow egregiously eroded in the US, I give you China.

    If freedom of speech is prohibited in the US, I haven't seen it.
  • Re:Free-ish Speech (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @04:07PM (#32501292)

    Further, there are many laws here in Canada that limit speech, that don't have a corresponding law in China. Specifically, I'm thinking about race.

    I would posit that the difference in your Canada vs China comparison is that the laws are better defined for you than they are a Chinese citizen. Like, what the hell does "non-harmonious" mean exactly? You don't know but you seem to have lost your job because of it.

    Think for a minute about what the phrase "speech against the government" could mean in China. Is saying "The Yang-tse river is so polluted!" considered speech against the Chinese government? Is complaining about your working conditions okay? Is criticizing the United States' copyright laws okay when your government has pledged time and time again to combat piracy?

    I think the biggest issue is that all of the above can be against the law on a case by case basis decided by the state. In Canada, are you afraid of the government disliking you for some reason and then reviewing your internet usage and history to find something to prosecute you under?

    What is to say that those phrases don't have a more specific meaning in Chineese (I don't know Chinese, so I don't know). English is a very vague language as it is and the Chineese mindset is very different from the Anglosaxian-American.

    I have had to explain the Swedish term "ministerstyre" (the Pirate Bay trials and some weapon system exports that slashdot haven't reported about) to a lot of English speaking people and it is really hard, not just because the English language lacks the words that is needed, but also because the Anglosaxian mindset is different. It is easier to explain to a German or Spaniard, despite that they also have a similar difference in mindsets (when it comes this matter), that is because German and Spanish makes it easier to construct understandable words and phrases that is missing from the language as they are needed, these languages is very flexible compared to English. I won't give a link to wikipedias article about "ministerstyre", because it is (as happened before) slightly of the target, there is a lot of English speaking wikipedians that correct the language in that article or try to make comparisons to phenomenons in the Anglosaxian world, and as they do, they usually get the content wrong.

  • Re:Rights... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by logjon (1411219) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @04:26PM (#32501534)
    "Better than the worst" != "Acceptable Transgressions"
  • by MBGMorden (803437) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @04:32PM (#32501626)

    Which I certainly don't see as a problem. Don't get me wrong, I think racism is a horrible, horrible thing, but I think it an equally horrible situation when people can be legally fined or jailed just for saying offensive things - racist or no.

    That's the problem with too many groups today. People have no capacity to separate activities which they find DISTASTEFUL, from activities which they believe should be ILLEGAL. To many it's all just one in the same. Growing up in the south, it's basically what I've come to call the the "That ain't raht." philosophy on law. Specifics don't matter - if it "ain't raht" then there "oughta be a law". And like porn, defining what "ain't raht" isn't always within everyone's capacity - they just know it when they see it.

    Accept that people WILL be assholes, and for the most part, that's fine. Let them be. We all should be a just a little bit assholish from time to time, because if you aren't offending ANYBODY, then you're just not living. For any of us to be free you have to accept that lots of people are going to be doing things that you really, really don't like.

  • Re:Free-ish Speech (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @04:41PM (#32501748)

    In Canada, are you afraid of the government disliking you for some reason and then reviewing your internet usage and history to find something to prosecute you under?

    In America, I am increasingly afraid of this happening. With the laws that require ISPs and internet search companies to maintain records for longer and longer periods of time, as well as the use of National Security Letters by the federal government to obtain that information, this is more likely than ever before. When the government can access all of your online history without oversight and without your knowledge, it sets up perfectly for abuse.

  • Re:Free-ish Speech (Score:3, Insightful)

    by danlip (737336) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @05:11PM (#32502232)

    but I think the only meaningful difference is that citizens cannot criticise the government -and don't get me wrong, that's a big difference

    That's more than just a big difference - there is one and only one truly important aspect of freedom of speech, and that is the right to criticize the government. I'm not saying other things aren't important to talk about, but any other law can be changed as long as you have citizens who care and have the right to criticize the current laws, so that right is what is truly important.

  • Re:Free-ish Speech (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 2short (466733) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @05:25PM (#32502446)

      So in one case, a state Attorney General issues an inappropriate subpoena to try to stop internet criticism, it's obviously a ridiculous failure, and the headline in the newspaper is "Stunning Abuse of Power". He may even lose the election because of it.

    In the other case, the national government issues an official policy stating that online criticism of the state will not be tolerated and perpetrators will be jailed. The newspapers all support the government because it owns them. This won't impact elections, because they don't have any.

    Somehow, I am not having difficulty distinguishing these. Attempts to quash free speech ought to to be called out and combated. If you live in PA, you ought to vote against this tool. But come on: If you're trying to claim Pennsylvania is at all comparably oppressive to China, you're crazy.

    On the other hand, if you're trying to point out that the're is nothing magical about being an American; that totalitarian tools can rise to power and gain the support of PA Republicans as easily as Chinese Communists; that our vastly superior freedoms are only the result of historical luck and constant vigilance... then I'm with you, obviously.

  • by AthleteMusicianNerd (1633805) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @06:02PM (#32502916)
    They say the same stuff to us. While that whole health care thing really didn't shut down the internet, it did scare people and was quite the bunch of bullshit.

    We're also told we have a free media, but this administration and the previous administration have both thrown reporters in jail. Of course all of this Net Neutrality talk is a bunch of bullshit too.
  • Re:Free-ish Speech (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DigiShaman (671371) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @06:23PM (#32503094) Homepage

    Tiananmen Square, June 3, 1989. Did that event not solidify exactly what the hell is going on there? Your attempt at moral relativism is pathetic.

  • Re:Both ways (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @07:51PM (#32504260)

    Not if my words are a computer-readable description of a patented algorithm, or a DRM system, or (depending on where the person I'm talking to happens to live) a strong encryption algorithm.

    I would not, of course, equate these restrictions with what China is doing, but don't pretend the US laws are perfect.

  • Re:Rights... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @07:52PM (#32504284)

    That's like arguing which shoe sole you'd rather have on the boot that stomps in your face...

I took a fish head to the movies and I didn't have to pay. -- Fish Heads, Saturday Night Live, 1977.

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